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Under The Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock's Hood

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock: Now With Windforce 5X
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This model is not based on AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition design, and we think that’s a good thing. A massive cooler invites us to see just how far we can overclock Gigabyte's board, and we haven't had good experiences with tweaking the GHz Edition card due to its PowerTune with Boost feature.

Gigabyte is actually fairly conservative with its factory-set 1080 MHz GPU frequency. Even AMD's reference design can hit that without much of an issue. Of course, we'll see how much further than that we can actually go.

Three gigabytes of GDDR5 memory operate at 1375 MHz, matching AMD’s reference design. This is a disappointingly low number, particularly since Gigabyte’s marketing materials originally claimed 1550 MHz. The modules themselves come from Hynix, and we did manage to push them beyond 1500 MHz on our own.

The Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock features one dual-link DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort outputs. It's other specs are as follows:


Gigabyte 7970 Super Overclock
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
AMD Radeon HD 7970
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Stream Processors
2048
2048
20481536
Texture Units
128
128128
128
Full Color ROPs
32
3232
32
GPU Clock
1080 MHz
1000 MHz Base
1050 MHz Boost
925 MHz1006 MHz Base
1058 MHz Boost
Texture Fill Rate
138.2 Gtex/s
134.4 Gtex/s
118.4 Gtex/s
128.8 Gtex/s
Memory Clock
1375 MHz
1500 MHz
1375 MHz1502 MHz
Memory Bus
384-bit
384-bit
384-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
264 GB/s
288 GB/s
264 GB/s
192.3 GB/s
Graphics RAM
3 GB GDDR53 GB GDDR53 GB GDDR5
2 GB GDDR5
Die Size
365 mm²365 mm²365 mm²
294 mm²
Transistors (Billion)
4.31
4.314.31
3.54
Process Technology
28 nm
28 nm28 nm28 nm
Power Connectors
2 x 8-pin
1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin
Maximum Power  (TDP)
300 W
275 W250 W
195 W


Although it looks impressive, Gigabyte's front shroud is purely cosmetic. The cooler is closed off and attached to the card’s PCB with six screws.

PCB Comparison

In the image above, Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock is up top and AMD's reference Radeon HD 7970 is below. It's easy to see the differences between them. In addition to a larger PCB, Gigabyte's card has a bigger VRM with higher-quality components.

The inductor coils and voltage transformers consist of encapsulated ferrite coils and low-RDS(on) MOSFETs, putting them in an entirely different league as AMD's own design. This should become an advantage in overclocking.

On the back of the Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock we find five proadlizers (high-capacity tantalum polymer capacitors). The power circuitry explains why the card is as long as it is.

The back plate’s only function is to stabilize Gigabyte's 7970 so that it doesn’t bend under the heavy cooler's weight. As far as quality goes, the on-board components leave nothing to be desired.

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  • 5 Hide
    unksol , August 6, 2012 5:24 AM
    While the cooler is an interesting concept, and the cards components are solid build quality and attention to detail seem to be severely lacking. The cooler isn't even designed for this board. Loose screws? thermal pads and TIM you have to scrape off/replace and void your warranty? And on a review sample of all things. I can't imagine one off the line would improve that situation...

    And while good on Toms for reporting it why isnt the card tested as it comes from the factory so we know what to actually expect...
  • 3 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , August 6, 2012 6:04 AM
    I will surely like to have that Gigabyte HD 7970 Super Overclock graphics card and be the only one in the US to claim so.
  • 2 Hide
    amuffin , August 6, 2012 6:17 AM
    The Gigabyte SOC Cards were always on of the most intriguing series out there of GPU's!
  • 2 Hide
    jase240 , August 6, 2012 6:18 AM
    I like the idea of this card, but really that thing is LOUD. I have an Asus GTX 670 Direct CUII TOP and its silent even at load its barely audible. Personally I think if someone is going to overclock to the extent that they need a card that keeps the ambient temps to be low, they will probably be liquid cooling their CPU with a radiator at the top of their case(that's what I'm doing).

    Honestly though if this card could be a little quieter it would be a great standard considering most people do still overclock with air coolers, and one thing bad for air coolers is a hot GPU blowing air towards the CPU.
  • 2 Hide
    goodguy713 , August 6, 2012 6:31 AM
    To be honest i think its a pretty sexy card.. loud yea.. but still a sweet card.. ill keep my fingers crossed..
  • 3 Hide
    JeanLuc , August 6, 2012 8:17 AM
    Yikes at the fan noise. Makes me glad I invested in a water cooling loop!
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , August 6, 2012 8:34 AM
    Over 90 degrees celcius? That card might not last too long if its under load all the time!
  • -5 Hide
    hellfire24 , August 6, 2012 9:00 AM
    gigabyte gtx 7970 *house brick* edition.
    lol
  • -1 Hide
    gsxrme , August 6, 2012 1:00 PM
    Water cooling is truly the only option for really overclocking. Those fans are way to noisy. I wish toms had a 1300Mhz GTX680 listed because my factory ASUS reference board even hits 1300Mhz Core / 6750Mhz Ram with no mods or voltage tweaks. I don't see this as a breakthrough and with the cost of 2500 res monitors less than 1% of the market are running that high.
  • -1 Hide
    nforce4max , August 6, 2012 1:05 PM
    This card isn't meant for the chickens that want cards to mostly silent but is for those who are much more aggressive in overclocking while being more forgiving when it comes to noise. This card isn't that loud compared to some rack mounted servers, I think that you guys could have pushed it further (why not) despite the power consumption. I like the build quality despite the R10 rated inductors that are driving the memory and gpu Q_Q As for the cooler I wonder if the heat pips only make contact with the vapor chamber or actually part of it? It isn't hard to design a good cooler but will cost more to produce.

    A lot of noise is a lot cheaper than going liquid cooling and as hot as it gets where I live you Need a really good cooling solution.
  • 2 Hide
    razor512 , August 6, 2012 1:20 PM
    For those complaining about the fans, remember that cooling design is designed around a multi videocard config.

    With that design, you can have 2 cards right next to each other and not have any cooling issues such as 1 card blocking the air intake of another card.

    these cards run hot when just alone, a standard cooling design with a SLI or crossfire config where the back of one card is very close to the air intake of the other, can cause the second card to overheat, especially when overclocking.

    (anyone remember 8800GTX and how it handled overclocking+ SLI)


    A better solution will be some kind of duct work to have a single large fan located at the side of the card. Or better yet, a sealed liquid cooling solution. many quality cases will have space for 1 to 2 120mm fans on the side panel as well as 1-2 rear 120mm fans, there is more than enough space to add a few radiators.

  • 0 Hide
    zhuddo , August 6, 2012 1:22 PM
    I wish they made the comp international.. /:
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , August 6, 2012 2:05 PM
    45 dBA is way too noisy to enjoy 'quite' gaming -- water cooling is really needed. Also, small fans are too high pitched for 'my' ears, and 2 or 3 larger side fans IMO would be a better option.

    Example - Gigabyte's GV-R797TO-3GD Radeon HD 7970 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125439


  • 2 Hide
    ojas , August 6, 2012 2:07 PM
    aren't jets engines louder than 100 dB(A)? :p 
  • 1 Hide
    maxinexus , August 6, 2012 2:12 PM
    Nice card but...40mm fans will always make noise and you need a case with a side exhaust. Why in the heck they don't use better memory modules? If mems could be pushed to 6k-7k that would def overtake ovrcked 680.
    gsxrme the highest resolution is needed to stress these cards to the limit...anything lower is overkill for em
  • -1 Hide
    larkspur , August 6, 2012 3:40 PM
    Razor512For those complaining about the fans, remember that cooling design is designed around a multi videocard config.


    Yes and there are only 200 of these being sold in Europe/Asia so unless you combine it with some other 7970 (one that pollutes the inside of the case with hot air or one that makes a ton of noise blowing all its air out the back I/O) you aren't going to be using two of them in a multi-card setup. So the heat/noise you would have saved is lost to the 2nd card. Couple that for the need for a side panel for this card's exhaust (while most other video cards can use the side panel as an intake) and you'll have turbulent, inefficient and noisy airflow inside the case.

    Not very smart to design a card for XFire that won't have enough availability to actually get two of them. For a card whose strength is multi-card setups, they sure didn't send Tom's two to test, you think with 200 cards available someone will manage to land two of them? Only 200 cards total? There's no shortage of 7970 GPUs - It's pretty clear that Gigabyte aborted this one somewhere along the way.
  • 0 Hide
    zaxevil , August 6, 2012 5:00 PM
    cool ! very nice looking
  • 0 Hide
    jase240 , August 6, 2012 5:40 PM
    I'm here to add to a comment I posted,

    This card would be GREAT for Crossfire, I didn't think of it before but if they would make more cards designed like this it would make tight crossfire/SLi setups easier. Without the worry of the cards overheating due to bad airflow.
  • 6 Hide
    ElMoIsEviL , August 6, 2012 6:22 PM
    Oh boy... why do people always mention the nVIDIA GTX 680. It is a good Gaming card but HORRIBLE for compute. It sucks so much that a GTX 285 can compete with it in that domain.

    Try running OpenCL apps like Bitcoin/Litecoin mining apps. Try running OpenCL Raytracing. This card just plain sucks.

    Now a Radeon 7970... that's a beast. At 1,300MHz it can produce over 850 Mhash/s using OpenCL/Java AES Decryption software. How does a GTX 680 fare? 90 Mhash/s (no joke).
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 6, 2012 7:13 PM
    Once again, another heat pipe design where the heat pipes are UPSIDE DOWN! So, all the refrigerant just sits at the end of the heat pipes and doesn't go anywhere. Do companies even think anymore before they design this garbage? I bet if Toms were to turn the case upside down (so the refrigerant actually falls to the correct area), the windforce 5x would cool a lot better than 90 deg. C.

    Still waiting for this heatpipe fad to die out and copper coolers to hit the market again. Then we wouldn't have to worry about orientation of the heatsink, and no 90 deg C (194 deg f for us yanks) temps!

    just my 2 cents.
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